Cate Blanchett unleashes on Australia calling her home nation ‘inhumane’ for its treatment of refugees – while living 16,000km away in a $6.25million English mansion
- Hollywood A-lister slams Australia for indefinite detention of asylum seekers
- Indefinite detention damages mental health: 200x the average self-harm rate
- Blanchett nominated for producing and acting in ABC TV-Series Stateless
- Actress spoke from Britain where she owns a posh English country mansion
- Luxury lockdown with seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms and five receptions
The Hollywood actress spoke from Britain where she is now enduring a tight lockdown as the covid-stricken nation suffers Europe’s deadliest outbreak.
As of Sunday, Britain had 1.6 million coronavirus cases and just over 58,000 deaths according to statistics website worldometers.
Cate Blanchett at the Venice International Film Festival on September 12. She has been nominated for Monday’s AACTA awards for her work on ABC refugee TV series Stateless
Blanchett’s lockdown experience is likely to be more comfortable than most, however, if she and husband Andrew Upton choose to shelter in their luxury English mansion Highwell House in East Sussex.
The magnificent manor house in the small town of Crowborough has seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms and five reception rooms, and looks out over the quaint English countryside.
The pair bought the historic home for £3 million ($6.25 million) at the end of 2015 in a canny business deal that saved them £750,000 off the original listing price.
They had sold their Hunters Hill trophy home in Sydney just a few months prior for an estimated $20 million to a buyer from China, real estate website Domain reported.
The Hollywood A-lister has been nominated for both producing and acting in ABC refugee drama Stateless, with the winners to be announced on Monday.
Blanchett’s luxury $6.25 million English manor Highwell House in the East Sussex countryside
Glamorous: The palatial home was restored to its original grandeur (pictured in 2016)
The cinema icon said the uncertainty generated by the global pandemic was echoed in the predicament of asylum seekers trapped in indefinite detention in Australia.
‘On one level, the pandemic has meant that people have been understandably focused on their local health and safety,’ she told the Sydney Morning Herald.
‘But people have also been forced to look at how interconnected the world’s challenges are and how vital it is that we all play a part in seeking solutions.
‘We have been living with massive uncertainty, and uncertainty is an ongoing condition for refugees and asylum seekers and indefinite detention is a traumatic and deeply inhumane extension of this.’
Australian law requires the detention of foreigners who enter Australia without a valid visa.
Seven years ago, Australia introduced a policy of ‘offshore processing’ people who came to Australia by boat without a visa and claimed to be asylum-seekers.
The Lorengau transit centre on Manus Island, PNG pictured in 2018. Those who came by boat and had their request to live in Australia rejected were sent here to prepare for resettlement
The offshore processing policy sought to discourage boat arrivals, and has cost the nation $7.6 billion according to a report released in July by UN refugee advocate agency ReliefWeb.
One of the main problems for the thousands of people who came claiming asylum was the uncertainty of an indefinite period of detention.
Many of them were locked up for years, never knowing when or if they would be granted residency in Australia, their lives in endless limbo.
The lengthy detention is not deliberate, it is often difficult and time-consuming for authorities to establish whether asylum seekers had a valid claim or even to check their identity in their country-of-origin.
Indefinite detention led to a mental health catastrophe with suicide attempts and self-harming behaviour.
An October 2019 University of Melbourne study found asylum seekers were more than 200 times more likely to be hospitalised for self-inflicted injuries than the general Australian community.
Cate with husband Andrew Upton pictured in 2017. Blanchett highlights the shortcomings in Australia’s refugee policy in ABC TV series Stateless which has won a swag of awards
The Christmas Island detention centre pictured in 2013. The indefinite detention and uncertainty drove many inmates to acts of self harm
As of September 30, there were 1,534 people in immigration detention facilities, according to the latest figures from the Department of Home Affairs, which points out in its report that 1,121 or 73 per cent have a criminal history.
Blanchett said the refugee issue had become politicised and it took time to find series partners to work on Stateless who were willing to look at the human face of the global displacement crisis.
Every two seconds around the world someone is forced to leave their home, she said, and so the TV series lets people imagine how they would react in that situation.
Stateless has so far won six Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards including best cinematography, costume design, editing, original score, production design and sound in television.
Ms Blanchett created the series with a school friend from MLC, director Elise McCredie, after they discussed the distressing events unfolding in Australia’s detention centres over breakfast.
Ms McCredie said the indefinite detention of asylum seekers continued with some of those who were locked up on Manus Island, PNG, now in Melbourne hotels still awaiting their verdict.